The best leaders I know have experienced brokenness at some point in their lives. They are also the most put-together people precisely because of their not-togetherness.
Their brokenness has provided perspective, maturity, understanding, compassion, and grace. Their brokenness has made them real, unpretentious, approachable, and loved.
There seems to be something missing in those who have not been broken. They seem so pure, so strong, so together, so “above it all.” They are unapproachable, pretentious, and unreal. They are “up here”, and we are “down there.” Most people don’t admire them they resent them.
If you’ve read the Bible you know that the greatest leaders were all broken people. At one time or another these leaders messed-up. Their humanness was exposed for all to see.
Brokenness is more than just the obvious things. It’s more than just the big mishaps and screwups. It’s more than the divorces, loss of loved ones, failed endeavors, and other losses. It’s the internal pain of loneliness, lostness, hopelessness, fear, insecurity, or low self-image. Brokenness is found in the pit of depression, and the emptiness of a senior’s day.
Leaders are people, human beings who have feelings and emotions. They, just like all of us suffer loss, lose hope, communicate badly, misunderstand and misjudge people, and fail. Leaders are people who experience brokenness.
And here is the mystery that often goes unnoticed: Many leaders can lead better because of their brokenness. Like a fine mosaic, the broken pieces of brokenness display a beauty only seen because they are broken pieces. To be broken is to be whole, to be whole is to be broken. Brokenness reveals the truth in our lives, that we’re not perfect. We must see this if we are going to be real and authentic.
The wholeness of brokenness is simply the reality that we are put together as shattered pieces, arranged in such a way that we seem whole. We, none of us, have it all together, we are put together, shaped, arranged, glued, molded, and transformed.
Great leaders—Servant Leaders—know this, acknowledge this, and use this reality so that they may have a greater and more meaningful impact upon the lives of the people they lead.